The Top 10 Streaming Songs in the US Are Becoming Less Popular Every Year

March 23, 2023

The main gripe with music streaming is that a small group of top artists receive a disproportionate amount of streams - in 2020, the top 1% of artists received 90% of on-demand audio plays. However, a recent report by Luminate suggests that listeners are starting to diversify their streaming habits. In the past few years, the percentage of listens attributed to the top 10 streaming songs in the US has been decreasing.

In 2022, the top 10 audio streaming hits in the US, led by Harry Styles's "As It Was", received a total of 4.723 billion plays on on-demand services like Spotify, YouTube Music, and Apple Music. This accounts for about 1 in every 250 audio streams or less than 0.5%. Five years ago, the number was 1 in 100 or 1.23%, and it has been decreasing annually.

Several factors may be contributing to this decrease in the dominance of megahits. These include an increase in catalogue listening, more streaming of non-superstar artists and artists from outside the US, and a greater amount of music available on streaming services. The positive impact of this trend is that more artists are receiving streaming revenue, which could lead to less focus on a small number of big names and potentially more opportunities for lesser-known artists to succeed in the music industry.

As Music Business Worldwide notes, the fragmentation of royalty revenue among a wider pool of top-tier artists, whether through streaming's globalization of listening or the emergence of a "middle class" of artists, has eaten into the royalty earnings that were once reserved for global pop icons.


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